Whether you write for the love of it or because you want to make a career of it, you’re probably interested in how to improve your writing. If you’re like me, you don’t always have the time for courses and working through resources. Sometimes, you want the results without the pain.
Here are five ways that I use to help me improve my writing and which might be helpful for you too:
1)Read. Read often. Read widely.
If you enjoy writing then you probably also like reading. The two go hand in hand. And if you enjoy reading, it should be easy for you to find time to pick up a book. You ought to be reading within the genre that you write in but it’s worth making a point of reading beyond that genre. Try a romance or a sci-fi or a mystery. While you’re at it read some flash-fiction, short stories or a graphic novel. You’ll be surprised what you pick up from reading from different genres and formats of writing.
2)While you’re reading, read the greats.
There’s a reason why Jodi Picoult, Stephen King and Bryce Courtney are successful writers – they’re experts in their craft. As a writer, I read the books of great writers and every second page takes my breath away. A phrase or description or character will be so perfect, so expertly crafted, that it makes bells ring in my ears. Immersing yourself in their work can only help you improve your own.
3)Try something new.
Part of the reason I started Two-Sentence Tuesday is because I wanted to try my hand at that sort of story telling. In two sentences I need to create a feeling and a satisfying story without the usual tools of story-telling. It’s certainly made me improve my ‘show don’t tell’ techniques and I’ve definitely got a new respect for the value of every sentence. If you usually write novels, try a short story. Better yet, give flash-fiction a crack. Even better, submit you’re own Two-Sentence Tuesday contribution. You’ll learn skills that you may not have needed to use before.
4)In the tough times, take a moment to write down how you feel.
This isn’t always easy but when you’re sad, or angry or in grief, jot down a paragraph or two about what you’re feeling and thinking. It doesn’t need to be perfect or grammatically correct, stream of consciousness is perfect. We often try to block out our negative experiences and then when we go to write a character in grief or in anger, we find ourselves stuck. By recording your own feelings at those times, you have something to look back on.
5)Watch a movie.
And while you’re watching, have a competition with yourself to pick out the major plot points. I do this all the time and it has helped me so much with my own plot structure. It also gives me something to think back on when I’m confused by my novel structure – I can think of the movie I watched and where the plot points were for it.
6)Take a walk.
I know, I said five but I thought I’d give you a bonus one. Put down your pen, shut-down your computer and go for a stroll. Let your mind wander. You might be surprised by the ideas that come your way when you give your brain a break.
Can you help with some other tricks I can try to improve my writing? Have you used any of my tried and true (for me anyway) strategies?